The Art of Writing A Cover Letter
In my line of work, I’ve seen all types of cover letters. I’ve seen reiterations of EXACTLY what was stated on a resume. I’ve seen eloquent pleas for an interview. I’ve even read through cover letters where I’ve wondered if the applicant was submitting for presidency of the country, rather the company. But in my time, I’ve also seen some brilliantly crafted cover letters, which have landed an applicant a VIP spot on my interview roster. Writing a cover letter can be tricky, so keep it short and to the point, and follow these suggestions:
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of writing a cover letter, let’s talk about what purpose a cover letter serves.
Let’s imagine you’re watching a movie trailer with no voice over. Just a series of scene flashes and one-liners. That’s essentially what your resume is. A quick snapshot of your work history with not much context. The cover letter provides the context. It’s the story that ties all the elements together and into the perfect reason to hire a candidate. Just as a voice over and cover music tell you if an explosion is to be interpreted as funny or dramatic, your cover letter should tell the reader how to interpret your experience.
So, without further ado, here are some tips on how to expertly draft a cover letter.
- Watch your grammar! You want to be personal in your cover letter and build rapport, but be wary of coming off as casual. Slang phrases and those of the vernacular sort show a lack of professionalism. Your resume and cover letter also are the first test of your accuracy and attention to detail.
Don’t make the mistake of using your cell phone’s autocorrect or word’s spell check to proof your document. There is a lot they don’t catch, including correctly spelled words in the wrong context. Instead, try using a free software, like Grammarly, and also step away from the work for at least an hour and then re-read with a fine tooth comb before submitting. If you have the time, have a friend or family member read it over as well.
- Do your homework. Every cover letter should be tailored to the specific position you are applying for. Shortly after the introduction, you want to let them know exactly why you’d be a great fit. Instead of droning on and on about how great you are, build a connection with your audience, first.
Do this by researching the company for information on their core values, community work, and the driving forces behind their business. Then, incorporate that into the letter and tell them how it’s their drive for innovation that attracts you most to their company and you share similar philosophies on product creation. This lets the reader feel like they are your top choice of companies to work for and also appreciate that you aren’t just looking for the next job, but the next opportunity to grow.
- Provide context while highlighting your best attributes. This is where the art of storytelling plays its role. It is here that you will pick out aspects of your resume that feature your strengths.
For instance, you’d say, “I excel at systemization. In my time with Apple, I standardized three main workflow operations reducing errors by over 30%. You want to be specific, yet not redundant. Just select one to three items, at most. You should never use bullets or simply retype the information from your resume.
The magic happens in the context you provide. There a lot of bullets on your resume and a lot of resumes in the pool with have similar bullets. What highlights you, as an applicant, is your ability to connect the dots for the hiring manager.
- Close strong. Take the opportunity to reiterate how excited you are to have learned their company had an opening and how long you’ve been a fan of their [insert something from section2]. Thank them for their time and let them know you eagerly await an opportunity to further discuss the position in greater detail.
Writing a cover letter may seem overkill, but if you can keep it short and to the point, can really benefit you by showing your knowledge beyond points on a resume
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